Daven wanted to hate Kian. He really did. The man had pointed a gun at him, and pulled the trigger without a flinch. So, why did he now smile so handsomely at Naomi, and listen to her with such attention.
“Your house is beautiful.” Kian told Naomi. “You must have spent a lot of time on it.”
Naomi’s gaze brightened, looking around the kitchen with pride.
“I wanted to make it as comfortable as I could, but you still have to have style even in comfort.”
“You got style,” Kian said.
“How long are you sitting the Jacobson house?” Naomi asked.
“Was supposed to be two weeks, but I got a call back yesterday from this job I applied for in Atlanta.”
“Oh, that’s too bad.” Naomi glanced at Daven, her disappointment clear. “Will you come back?”
“If I get the job, no,” Kian said, sipping his coffee.
“Well.” Naomi sighed and sat back in her chair. “You gotta do what you need to make a living. I understand that.”
Daven looked at Kian and blinked when Kian winked at him. It was too hard to judge Kian. Lies came easily to the man: he smiled, winked and charmed his way out of every situation.
Kian placed his mug in the sink.
“I’m tired after all the fun tonight,” Kian said. “I’ll leave you to it and head to my bed.”
Naomi got up and stopped Kian when he started to walk past her. She pulled him into a hug and Kian tensed in reaction. He stood frozen, his arms stiff at his sides as Naomi hugged him tighter.
“Thank you so much for tonight. Because of you and Daven, those men didn’t touch my babies. If you ever need anything, anything at all—”
“I don’t need anything,” Kian said, stepping out of her hug, his expression almost frightened.
Daven chuckled at Kian’s obvious discomfort.
Kian scowled at him.
“I really should go now.”
“Of course. Good night,” Naomi said, watching Kian hurry out the kitchen to the corridor beyond.
Naomi went to the sink and rinsed out her mug and Kian’s.
“Why my house?” Naomi wondered, placing the mugs on a rack when they heard the front door close. “I’ve never thought I would worry about gangsters breaking into my house, Daven. Not in this neighborhood. Should we move?”
Daven stared into his coffee, guilt riding him. Here he was faulting Kian for his lies. Turns out, the truth was hard to tell. He needed to confess to Naomi that he was the reason why her home was violated. It would place her in more distress, and he hated that, but then if he left and the worst happened to him—
He met her gaze when she turned to face him clutching a dish cloth.
“I can’t stay here any longer,” Daven said. “Those men weren’t coming to rob you, they were looking for me.”
“Why?” Naomi asked, after a full minute of silence.
Daven pushed his coffee mug away.
“Remember when I told you I have one thing to finish?”
“What is it? Why would people come looking for you here because of it?” Naomi demanded.
She was no weak woman. She was facing this head on, ready to find a solution.
“Telling you puts you in more danger,” Daven said. “Once I leave, no one will break into your house. You don’t need to move, Naomi. You and the kids will be safe.”
Naomi placed the dish cloth on the counter. She let out a short breath and turned away from him, bracing her hands on the counter, her shoulders tense.
Daven stood up.
“Don’t,” Naomi said, her voice thick with tears. “It’s always like this with you. Two years ago, foreigners suffering in war torn countries were more important. I begged you to stay then, you refused.”
She shook her head.
“You came back here after months of spotty messages looking the worst you could. I took you in because you’re important to me and my kids. Now, you say you have to leave, again.”
Naomi scoffed and slapped the counter.
“Enough of this, whatever they are, leave the problems to other people, Daven. Stay here with me, Zena and Aram.”
“Of course, I’m angry.” Naomi turned to face him. “Watching you leave is not easy, Daven. I must have brought down a nation in my previous life to be punished like this. All I’ve done this lifetime is worry about the Nolan brothers. First your brother, now you.”
Daven crossed the short distance between them and gripped her shoulders. He pulled her into his chest, wrapping her in a tight hug. He closed his eyes when she held him tight, burying her face into his chest.
“If I start breaking cups and plates, will you change your mind about leaving?” Naomi asked.
Daven pressed a kiss on top of her head.
“You’ll be even angrier with me for making you break the precious utensils you’ve collected. How about, I promise to come back here when I’m done and be domesticated. I’ll even find a boyfriend.”
“You’re certainly going to miss out on the hottie next door,” Naomi said, her voice full of tears. “I think he would stay if you asked. Oakland is not a bad city, Daven. I have a friend who can help Kian find a job here. You seem to like him...”
Yep, that was Naomi. She would make sure Kian found the right job to keep him in Oakland, CA. If this were normal circumstances, but they weren’t.
And Kian was definitely not a harmless hottie next door.
“Stop, Naomi. Don’t be sad,” Daven begged when she sniffled. “Otherwise, it will be hard for me to leave you, Zena and Aram. Hmm…you give me strength to keep going out there, you know.”
“The kids will miss you,” Naomi said. “They really will. You slept the whole time and didn’t get to take them out. They won’t be happy about you leaving so soon.”
“You can have them write a list of all the things they want to do. We can go do them after I come back.”
“And if you break your promise?” Naomi asked.
Daven frowned. He certainly hoped to keep his promises, but in case anything went wrong—
He squelched that thought.
“I promise I will come back, Naomi,” Daven said, meaning it.
Kian stood in the backyard looking into the lighted Noland kitchen. The relationship between Daven and Naomi fascinated him. Daven held Naomi tight, as though he were trying to infuse Naomi with his strength. She was a short woman, barely reaching Daven’s shoulders. Their affection tangible, she trusted Daven.
Kian frowned listening to Daven’s promises. Daven’s odds were at zero percent, he was in no position to be making promises.
Shaking his head, Kian turned away from the cozy scene and headed around the house to the front lawn. A police car drove by slowly, heading to the next street. The police had increased patrol in the estate. Kian studied the left side of the street. The cars packed in the driveways along Naomi’s side were the same number. He turned to the right, and counted, there were supposed to be four cars. There were five.
Three properties down, a new black car parked on the driveway. It hadn’t been there when the police were taking away the two operatives. Nor any other time this past week.
Kian stood in the shadows staring at that car for a full minute, then made a decision. He walked to the front steps of the Noland house. Pushing his hair back, he stood under the security light and looked up into the sky.
Yui hissed when Kian’s face filled the screens in the Raja Securities control room. Kian was in place. Right where his grandfather wanted him. Her smile was flitting.
This was the first time Kian was showing his face to the organization in four years. She had pulled all his records after the Seoul Incident. He had been a good boy and kept hidden. The operatives around the room worked fast to identify Kian, but they got nothing. His record was non-existent.
The silent operative in Tier 1, known only to her and Seiko Raja.
“What’s the play?” the seventh operative asked through his comms.
“Fall back tonight, your operation continues in the morning,” Yui ordered. “Daven Noland cannot live.”
“And the man protecting him?”
“Deal with it,” Yui said.
If Seiko Raja heard her, he would have her killed for the reckless order. However, placing Kian in danger pulled him out of hiding and into the open. She hoped it would push Kian into returning to Tokyo to meet his grandfather.
“Don’t hold back,” Yui warned the operative. “He won’t.”
In the morning, at around nine o’clock, Zena and Aram came running downstairs, dressed in jeans and t-shirts. They found Daven in the kitchen, an apron tied around his hips, busy making strawberry pancakes.
“Good morning, Princess,” Daven greeted, Zena.
He placed his spatula on a plate and wiped his hands on a clean cloth. Leaning down, he kissed Zena’s cheek, then lifted Aram and settled him in his chair at the kitchen table.
“Ready for breakfast, little man?”
“Ready!” Zena answered, sitting beside her brother. “Mommy is taking us swimming.”
“Is she?” Daven glanced at Naomi who stood watching them at the kitchen entrance.
She looked composed. Beautiful, in a sleeveless white silk top and jeans.
He grinned at her and picked up the maple syrup, waving it.
“Do you think Mommy wants pancakes this morning?” Daven asked Zena.
“I want mine first,” Zena said.
Daven chuckled and winked at Naomi.
“Best take care of the Princess first then, Mommy can wait.”
“You have to make them extra special for Mommy,” Aram said.
“Is that so?” Daven picked up his spatula and moved to the cooking range.
“Yes, Mommy says, the person who gets their food last gets extra special treatment. So, we’re letting her have pancakes last,” Zena explained. “Because she’s taking us swimming.”
“Mommy is awesome.” Aram seconded his sister.
Daven glanced at Naomi to find her smiling. There was nothing like fresh innocence to lighten the mood. Breakfast was fun. The pancakes delicious. Aram chewed the insides and pushed the ends of the pancakes to the table. Daven marveled at how Aram managed to get maple syrup all over his cheeks and t-shirt.
Naomi drank coffee, responding to Zena and Aram’s many questions. When breakfast was over, she cleaned up Aram and urged Zena to take him upstairs to change his t-shirt.
Daven took the plates from the table and cleaned them out at the sink. He was rinsing them when Naomi finally spoke.
“Will you be here when we get back?” she asked.
He turned to find her wiping the kitchen table. Her head bent down.
“No. I will call though, tell you when I’ve reached New York.”
Naomi nodded and threw the paper towel she was using into the trash bag.
Naomi flashed him a smile that didn’t reach her eyes.
Daven finished washing the dishes and wiped the counter clean. He tied up the trash bag and removed his apron. Hanging it on the hook just as Naomi had done the morning before.
Zena and Aram came racing into the kitchen eager to leave. Naomi herded them back to the living room, where Daven discovered her packed swimming bag and handbag on the coffee table.
Daven picked up Aram, tickling him as he raced outside to Naomi’s SUV. He opened the back passenger door and buckled Aram in. Zena slid in next to her brother, favoring Daven with a toothless smile, when she was settled.
“Okay, kids, give Uncle Daven kisses,” Naomi said, sliding into the driver’s seat.
“And hugs,” Daven said, leaning into blow bubbles on Aram’s neck, making him laugh.
Daven leaned over and Zena gave him a tight hug, raining kisses on his jaw, and his lips. She let go, and he helped buckle her seat belt.
Daven swallowed down a lump in his throat as he closed the back passenger door, and stepped up to Naomi’s side.
“I’ll call you,” Daven said. “If you run into more trouble…”
“I know how to reach you,” Naomi said. “The same for you. Don’t let a stranger come here to tell me about you.”
Naomi started the car, and he leaned in and pressed a kiss on her cheek.
“Be safe, Daven,” Naomi said, finally looking at him. Her eyes wet with tears.
She backed out of the drive a minute later, and took off leaving him alone.
Daven went back into the house, with new determination. No more goodbyes for either of them. The faster he finished his obligations the better.
Daven hurried upstairs to pack. He came back down twenty minutes later after a shower, carrying the black duffel bag he came with on his shoulder and his passport in hand. He paused in the living room when the scent of fried eggs filled his senses. Dropping his duffel bag in an armchair, Daven detoured to the kitchen.
Daven paused at the entrance when he found Kian placing a plate of fried eggs on the kitchen table.
“I’m starving,” Kian said. “Naomi is the best, she must stock up on groceries every day. Ready to go?”
Daven held up his passport.
“The ticket is printing as we speak.”
“Hmm…” Kian sat down and dug into fried eggs and toast.
“Are you coming along?” Daven asked. “We never finished our conversation.”
“Didn’t think we needed to,” Kian answered. “I’m guessing you are not headed to New York like you told Naomi.”
“The Hague then,” Kian sighed. “Can’t you give in, and not testify? Life will be easier.”
“Can’t do that.”
“You’re frustrating,” Kian said, and continued eating. “Naomi will shed buckets because of you.”
“Don’t do that,” Daven snapped.
“Talk about my family as though you know us.”
Kian shrugged and finished eating. He ate fast, like a man on the run.
Military style, Daven thought.
Kian drank his coffee as quickly as he ate. He got up with a burp and washed his dishes, placing them on the rack neatly.
“Good to go,” Kian said, lifting a bag Daven hadn’t seen from the floor. “I took the trash out, by the way.”
Daven returned to the living room, going to a printer resting on a short stool in the corner. He took the paper on the tray that would serve as his ticket for check-in. He folded it and placed it in his passport.
“Do you have a passport?” Daven asked.
“Yes.” Kian smiled. “I can even pay for my ticket.”
“Couldn’t have guessed it,” Daven said, taking in Kian’s rugged jeans and the dark t-shirt that looked as old as time.
Kian ignored that comment and led the way to the front door.
“You should have let me choose a car,” Kian said, when they were on the road for about ten minutes.
Daven was driving a black Mercedes from Naomi’s garage. Kian sat in the passenger seat. His duffel bag at his feet. Daven tapped his fingers along to music on the radio.
Daven glanced at him.
“Do you own a car?”
“I own this one. Naomi maintains it for me.”
However nice that was, Kian preferred manual transmission vehicles. No nasty surprises with them, only the joy of the ride. Kian tagged the cap he wore lower on his face and settled in for the smooth ride anyway. He closed his eyes for a nap. He hadn’t slept one wink since officially meeting Daven.
Daven changed lanes on the highway.
Kian loved the feel of the expensive engine finally opening up, as it picked up speed. The ride to the airport was twenty minutes, with this baby, it would take less than that. The car was still increasing speed. He frowned and opened one eye.
Daven held the steering wheel with both hands, a frown dancing on his forehead. His right foot pressed the brake pedal over and over, the speed still increased.
Kian sat up.
“I don’t know what’s wrong,” Daven said, staring at the navigation instruments on his dashboard. “Naomi promised the car was fully functional. She took it for maintenance last week.”
Kian reached up to adjust the rear view mirror.
Kian ignored Daven. The cars behind them were few, but among them, a motorcycle with one rider kept up with their growing speed.
Kian tried to open his window, pressing the button on his passenger door hard. Nothing happened. He tried to unlock the door, and it refused to disengage.
“This is why you should have let me choose the car.”
Kian righted the rearview mirror, and unbuckled Daven’s seat belt.
“Time to exchange.”
“Are you crazy?” Daven scowled at him, his foot pumping the brakes with no response. “We are almost at a hundred miles per hour.”
“Yes, but you’re not really driving, are you?” Kian pointed to the speedometer. “That is growing steadily without your help.”
Daven panicked, eyes wide, his grip on the steering wheel tightening in horror.
“Move, Doctor,” Kian ordered, his tone brooked no argument.
It was a struggle to change seats, and Daven ended up with a knocked knee and Kian’s elbow smashing into his forehead. Kian paid no mind to his aches. The speedometer was at one-fifty. The only thing he could control was steering.
So, he focused on that.
“Buckle up,” Kian said to Daven, keeping the car steady on the fast lane.
There was no car close, so Kian assumed the agenda here was to crash them into a bridge column, or start a pile up. The best option to start such a travesty would be at an exit. Investigators would rule it driver-error. The police would say Daven was joyriding his Mercedes, or driving intoxicated.
Kian frowned, trying the brakes anyway, nothing happened. The seventh operative was good. He must have done this last night. While Kian was occupied with the two in the house, this must have been what the bastard was up to. Upgrading the car’s navigation software to his own ends.
Fucking elite engines, Kian swerved into another lane to avoid a car on the fast lane. He weaved from lane to lane, his gaze on the motorcycle behind them.
The rider worked to keep up. He needed to stay close to make whatever he was using work.
Kian smiled and focused on creating distance between them. For a full two minutes, they drove at breakneck speed. Kian weaved lanes, fast, forcing Daven to grip the handle over the passenger door tight.
Kian glanced into the rear view mirror and almost felt elated when he couldn’t see the motorcycle. Taking an empty lane, he slammed his foot on the brake, hoping, hoping…the needle on the speedometer dropped, and he pressed down on the brake forcing their speed lower to a hundred miles per hour.
Still too fast.
Kian hit the master lock, unlocking doors. The motorcycle appeared behind them, and their speed rose.
The doors remained unlocked.
Small relief, the operative was too focused on killing them in a crash.
Kian hissed as he scraped the back light of a sedan as he changed lanes. The owner of the car honked his displeasure, but Kian was already too far ahead.
Daven gripped the handle above him tight, his heart pounding. They were driving too fast. Kian missed another car with a hairsbreadth, jerking into an empty lane. The relief was short-lived, as multiple cars filled the road from a merging lane.
Daven fought the urge to scream, and instead focused on Kian’s steady hands on the steering wheel. Looking at Kian’s face, he noted no sweat, no panic, only extreme calm and concentration. Kian’s hands moved as though he was out driving on a lazy Sunday morning. Daven’s gaze went to the speedometer, and anxiety rose as the needle rose steadily to a hundred and sixty.
“Unbuckle your belt. Grab your bag from the back,” Kian said, weaving from lane to lane.
It was getting harder to avoid hitting cars. At their speed, one touch, would lead to a serious pile-up.
Daven forced himself to let go of the handle. Unbuckling his seat belt, he reached back and got his duffel bag.
“Take my bag too,” Kian said, pointing to the duffel at Daven’s feet.
“What are we preparing to do?” Daven asked, his voice sounded strained to his ears.
Daven looked out his window and gaped. Any attempt to bail out would get them killed in an instant. Before Daven could protest, Kian changed lanes, hard, cutting off a trailer in the process. The heavy vehicle weaved behind them, but Daven had no time to worry about the trailer’s fate. Kian was driving them off the highway on to a rough grassy patch that divided an exit from the highway. Their speed was still too high, despite the short bushes and long grass.
Daven gripped the bags in his arms, trying not to freak out when Kian let go of the steering wheel. Kian reached over him and opened Daven’s door.
“Fold your hands over your chest. Hug the bags tight,” Kian ordered, already climbing out of the driver’s seat.
Kian didn’t give him a chance to think about the fast moving ground. One minute he was in the car, the next, they hit the ground hard. Kian’s arms wrapped around Daven, as they rolled on rough grass. A spectacular explosion filled the air a minute later. Daven groaned, lifting his head to find his car wrapped around a bridge pillar. The cars on the highway slowed, drivers pulling over to stare at the wreck.
Daven gasped as his precious Mercedes burst into flames.
Kian ignored Daven’s shock at the loss of his car. His focus on the rider with the black Ducati. The operative rode straight at them, determined to end Daven. Kian picked up a heavy rock from the ground and hurled it as hard as he could at the rider’s face.
The operative let go of the handles, hands going up to protect himself from the shattered helmet. He lost balance and fell off the motorcycle.
Kian grabbed the bags Daven had dropped and raced for the undamaged motorcycle.
“Daven,” he called, when his charge still stood staring at the burning car. “Come on, we need to go.”
Daven looked at him confused, his gaze jerked to the man groaning on the ground. The operative removed his helmet.
“Daven, fucking move,” Kian ordered.
Daven burst into motion and climbed on to the back of the motorcycle, his arms wrapping around Kian’s waist.
Kian sped back onto the highway determined to get them to the Oakland International Airport. He rode fast, aware that he was using a motorcycle sourced by Raja Securities. Thankfully, their accident was five minutes away from the airport. Taking exit 35, as Daven had originally intended, Kian followed the signs leading to the airport.
“Why did we run?” Daven asked, when Kian led the way to the first airport bathroom he could find. “The police will show up on the scene. Whoever tried to kill us—?”
“Is not done,” Kian said. “We need to board a flight quickly.”
Kian dumped his backpack on the sink counter and opened it. Daven peered into the mirror, removing bits of grass stuck to his hair, and inspecting a scrape on his chin. Turning on the water, he used a paper napkin from the dispenser to dab on the scrape, wiping away blood.
Beside him, Kian placed a passport on the counter, and a thousand dollars in a bundle of hundreds.
“Are you walking around with cash?”
Daven stared at the beat up duffel bag Kian held.
“Don’t you?” Kian asked.
He pulled out a green windbreaker from the bag and a black cap.
Daven caught a glimpse of red on Kian’s elbows when he lifted his hands to wear the cap. He grabbed Kian’s left arm, hissing at the angry scrapes on Kian’s elbows, going up to his t-shirt sleeve.
“You should let me take care of these,” Daven said.
“Not now.” Kian wore the windbreaker, and slung his bag over his shoulder. “We need to go.”
Daven got his own passport from his jacket pocket. He took his ticket out to check boarding time only to have Kian take the ticket out of his hands.
“What are you doing?”
“Flying to Amsterdam is too obvious.” Kian stated, turning the paper into a little ball. He threw the ball into the nearest trashcan. “They will wait for us there.”
Daven followed Kian out the bathroom to ticketing.
“What do we do then?”
“Give me your passport,” Kian ordered.
Daven complied without hesitation. It was getting easier and easier to do as Kian asked.
When they reached the counter, Kian bought two tickets on the next flight out with empty seats. Once he had the tickets, he handed them to Daven.
“Honolulu?” Daven asked, when they made it through security and were waiting to board their flight. “Fancy a vacation?”
Kian sat on a bench in the waiting lounge, dropping his bag on the floor. His gaze never resting, forever scanning their surroundings.
“Where did you learn to drive like that?” Daven asked, sitting next to Kian. “I mean, without you, I would be dead the minute I realized I couldn’t control the car. No one drives like that.”
“Basic skills,” Kian said, his tone bored.
“Basic skills,” Daven mimicked Kian. “Do all assassins answer questions like you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t you hang out with them?”
Kian glanced at Daven.
“You’re an endless pit of questions. I answer yours, why won’t you answer mine?”
“Because I don’t know if I should trust you,” Daven answered.
“I just saved you from your precious Mercedes-gone-wild. How much more trust do you need between us?”
“A whole nation worth,” Daven said. “You’re still an assassin. You freak me out by existing.”
“Yeah, well, you piss me off by existing,” Kian scoffed. “I still don’t understand why I have tangled myself with you and your family. I should have walked away at the mall.”
“Then, why didn’t you?”
Kian stared at a family sitting in the chairs across them. A woman, her husband, and their two children, three carry-on bags around them. The family was clearly heading on vacation. Looking away from their closeness, Kian wondered again why he couldn’t walk away from Daven. All it would take was a flight out of this airport. He would lose the organization within hours, the United States was a huge country. So many States, so many places to hide, so many exits.
Daven cursed under his breath after a minute, drawing Kian’s attention.
The man looked tired, his dreadlocks out of their custom tie in the back. His chin was bruised, a small red patch that looked angry. Most of all, Daven was scared. Kian doubted anyone would be sane after that crazy ride.
“I’m sorry,” Daven said.
“Your life is in danger because of me,” Daven said. “I shouldn’t—
“Don’t try to placate me,” Kian snapped. “Everything I do, Daven Noland, I do it of my free will. If nothing else, understand that about me.”
“Is that why you won’t leave me?” Daven asked. “Because your free will tells you not to?”
“Now you’re over thinking the situation,” Kian said, giving Daven a short smile. “I had nothing else to do. Keeping you alive seemed like a good project to start.”
Daven stared at him in surprise, then burst out laughing until tears shone in his eyes.
“Glad I amuse you,” Kian said, when Daven calmed down a little.
“I’m afraid if I don’t laugh, I might cry,” Daven said, wiping the corners of his eyes with his t-shirt. “You have no idea how frustrating you are. What do we do when we get to Honolulu?”
“Find a clean way out,” Kian answered.
“That explains everything.”
“It should,” Kian said, then stood up. “Wait here.”
“Why? Where are you going?”
“I’m starving,” Kian said, and headed toward the cafeteria.
“I’m freaking out, and all you can think about is food.”
Six hours later, they landed in Honolulu. Daven followed Kian through the airport and wasn’t surprised when Kian headed straight to another ticketing counter. In minutes, they had tickets heading to Paris, via Delta Airlines.
The hour long wait was spent in the Delta Lounge, with Kian sleeping on three chairs, his head resting on the duffel bag that served as his bank. Daven sat beside him, reading The Alienist, a book Kian brought back along with a cup of coffee when they had been at the Oakland Airport. Daven wondered how Kian had known he liked reading mysteries. Truthfully, the book was a welcome distraction from the unrelenting anxiety.
Daven’s gaze moved away from the page to settle on Kian’s sleeping face. With his eyes closed, Kian looked harmless. In his perpetual t-shirt and jeans, and the cap over his face, Kian could pass for a guy coming from an exciting vacation in the islands. How charming that would be, Daven thought.
Kian slept with his lips parted slightly.
Watching him, Daven remembered their kiss in Naomi’s corridor. He hadn’t disliked that kiss at all, in fact he wondered now what it would feel like if they put their minds into it.
Brown eyes opened, and he looked away, guilt flushing through him at being caught staring. Daven closed his book and cleared his throat.
“It’s time,” Kian said, as he sat up, his movements stiff.
“Where to after we get to Paris?” Daven asked.
“We’ll get you off the grid, Doctor.” Kian flashed him a smile. “Turn you invisible.”
Daven frowned, studying Kian as he stood up, and carefully placed his bag over his shoulder. Their jump out of the Mercedes filled his head, and he realized Kian had taken the brunt of their initial fall. Kian’s pain tolerance level had to be high…too high, or maybe the adrenaline from the excitement of the day numbed the pain. Their jump however calculated was hard on the body. Kian had to have damaged something.
Daven decided then that he needed to get a look at Kian’s shoulder. His savior/assassin needed to remain in his best possible condition, Daven smiled at the thought.
Aboard the plane to Paris, Daven sweet talked the stewardess into finding him a first aid kit. When they could move around the plane, Daven took Kian’s arm, pulling him out of his seat, and led him to the bathroom. Kian had splurged and bought them business class seats. Daven was grateful because he hated flying coach. His legs were too long.
Winking at a passing stewardess, Daven urged Kian into the bathroom, and followed in, locking the door.
“Strip,” Daven said, placing the first aid kit box on the sink.
Kian sat on the toilet lid.
“Is this you hitting on me?” Kian asked, removing his green windbreaker.
“That would be exciting, but no. Your t-shirt too,” Daven said, glancing at Kian.
Kian rolled up his t-shirt and pulled it over his head in a swift easy shrug. Dropping the fabric on his thigh, he lifted his left elbow to get a look at the angry scrapes decorating the back of his arms.
“Well, this is going to be uncomfortable for two days,” Kian said, and winced as he checked his right elbow only to see the same scrapes.
Daven found antibiotic ointment, and checked the expiry dates. Satisfied that the creams were still good, Daven turned to find Kian bending down to pick up his t-shirt, which had fallen.
Daven stopped, his gaze on the angry deep abrasions on Kian’s left shoulder blade. A wide patch of red, dotted with bits of dirt, it looked extremely painful.
“Why didn’t you let me see to this in Oakland?”
Kian abandoned his t-shirt, stood and peered at his shoulder in the mirror above the sink. He shrugged when he saw the state of his shoulder and sat on the toilet lid again.
“Road rash,” Kian said with a shrug, as though it was normal.
Daven scowled, annoyed by Kian’s blasé attitude.
“You could get an infection leaving a wound that severe unattended. You could be stuck lying on your stomach while we cut out pieces of flesh out as it rotted from infection. It’s quite gory work.”
“Dr. Noland, remind me not to be your patient again. Your bedside manner is frightening.”
“You deserve it for letting me travel with you this far while you are clearly hurt.”
Daven shook his head, unhappy. He should have pushed the issue in the Oakland Airport bathroom. He moved the first aid kit and placed it on Kian’s lap. Turning on the hot water, he reached for soap and concentrated on washing his hands.
“You’re so good at doing everything else. Why the hell would you get yourself that hurt?” Daven asked, glancing at Kian’s bent head.
Kian rummaged through the first aid kit with interest, pulling out a pair of tweezers and staring at them.
“Well, it was my shoulder or your precious hands, Doctor. At least you can use your hands to fix my shoulder. If it was the other way round, and you hurt your hands, I doubt you would be able to hold a scalpel again, or one of these.”
Kian waved the tweezers at Daven, then dumped them into the first aid kit.
Daven was speechless.